Nazi Germany could not have been defeated in the West without a preponderance of Allied air power–mostly achieved by American bombers and fighter aircraft based in England.
But how did those planes get there?
Someone had to fly them across the Atlantic Ocean to deliver them for combat duty; and that’s where the Womens Airforce Service Pilots–WASPs–came in.
There were a little over 1,000 of these women, and only a few still living, all of them in their 90s. In 1943, aviation technology wasn’t what it was today, and flying across the Atlantic was a dangerous job: 38 of the women lost their lives, doing it.
And at the end of the war, their records were sealed and, because the WASPs were never formally part of any branch of the armed forces but were considered Civil Service employees instead, the women were not classified as veterans and were not given benefits. They were, in short, the victims of a crossfire in a bureaucratic turf war within the Dept. of Defense. It wasn’t until 1977 that Sen. Barry Goldwater was able to get a bill passed recognizing the WASPs for their service to their country.
Visit the WASP Museum ( http://waspmuseum.org/ ) in Sweetwater, Texas, or donate online.
My father was only an ordinary sailor in the Navy, part of the crew of an ammo ship (one glancing blow from a torpedo, and up she goes). When he died a few years ago, the Navy sent an honor guard to his burial service and presented a flag to my mother. This was right and fitting, and the memory of that ceremony still moves me when I think of it.
But the WASPs were long denied anything like this, and that’s not right.
Ladies, my little blog salutes you.